The interwebs were thrown into a tailspin four weeks back when it was reported by the MCU Exchange that Selma director Ava DuVernay had closed a deal to direct Marvel’s Black Panther, the studio’s first film to be led by a black actor. Along with many other publications, WGTC posted the story, and a rather chaotic news day followed as other publications refuted the smaller site’s scoop, and the MCU Exchange refused to give any specifics on where it got confirmation of DuVernay’s deal. Eventually, it became clear that there was little validity to the story, though DuVernay had at one point met with Marvel about the movie.
Now, weeks after making it clear that she would not be helming the superhero blockbuster, the director has elaborated on the whole debacle. “It was really an enlightened day in terms of the quality of journalism,” she was quoted as saying by The Hollywood Reporter.
Talking about her thought process with regard to Black Panther, DuVernay said:
“For me, it was a process of trying to figure out, are these people I want to go to bed with? Because it’s really a marriage, and for this, it’d be three years. It’d be three years of not doing other things that’re important to me. It was a question of, is this important enough for me to do?”
DuVernay further explained that she had seriously considered signing on due to the massive popularity of Marvel movies:
“At one point, the answer was yes, because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery and culture in a worldwide, huge way that they do in a certain way: flying, exciting action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero — that would be pretty revolutionary. These films go everywhere from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that. That’s how the conversations continued, because that’s what I was interested in. But everyone’s interested in different things.”
Of course, Marvel has a history of locking horns with strong-willed directors – just ask Edgar Wright, who walked away from Ant-Man after eight years spent involved with the project because Marvel wouldn’t let him put his distinctive stamp on the pic. DuVernay evidently anticipated similar clashes over the creative direction of the film:
“What my name is on means something to me — these are my children. This is my art. This is what will live on after I’m gone. So it’s important to me that that be true to who I was in this moment. If there’s too much compromise, it really wasn’t going to be an Ava DuVernay film.”
All that said, DuVernay says she’s looking forward to seeing how Marvel brings T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to the big screen. “I think it should be good when it comes out,” she said, adding that she’ll “be there, watching.”
Black Panther opens July 6, 2018.